American Weakness: Individual Debt and Societal Debt

The U.S. has largely become very comfortable with debt. At left, the two large scanned documents are from the March 14, 2011 Time magazine.
The second, smaller image at left is from the NY Times of April 11, 2011. It actually provides statistics that refute the larger graph at left ~ that student debt has eclipsed credit card debt.

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New Zealand’s Strategic Importance – May 1942

**NOTE: On December 15, 1941, Japan generated a military proposal for it’s Axis partner, that the 70th meridian east longitude (splitting India in half) would form the dividing line between the powers. Hitler signed. What’s even more interesting is that Hitler, not knowing much about the world beyond Europe, in his only known conversation on New Zealand, reportedly argued that its people “still lived in trees and had not yet learned to walk upright.”

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Great Naseby Water Race: 50 Miles in 7 hours, 43 minutes!

So, this is what 50 miles looks like ~ a very squinty eyed, salt stained expression of semi-agony. It took about 3 hours for the blood to come back to my arms and hands, as it had become fairly settled in my legs over the past 7 hours and 43 minutes.

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Real Black Swans

My profession as a military officer and as an extension of that, a strategist, has been fulfilled by a holiday trip down to Lake Wanaka on New Zealand’s South Island. My wife Rachel, daughter Grace and I were hiking along the Glendhu Bay Track adjacent to Lake Wanaka (about 5 minutes drive from the town of Wanaka) when Rachel spotted two Black Swans in the water. The pictures we took don’t do them justice, as they were acquired via iPhone camera. Make no mistake, they were beautiful, and we had a better view than available at left.

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Libya: So Far, So Good

In March, President Obama outlined his policy goals for the violence in Libya. He began by discussing the context:

In this particular country — Libya — at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale. We had a unique ability to stop that violence: an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves. We also had the ability to stop Gadhafi’s forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground.

He then assessed the “important” American strategic interest in preventing Gadhafi from killing those who oppose him:

A massacre would have driven thousands of additional refugees across Libya’s borders, putting enormous strains on the peaceful — yet fragile — transitions in Egypt and Tunisia. The democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship, as repressive leaders concluded that violence is the best strategy to cling to power. The writ of the United Nations Security Council would have been shown to be little more than empty words, crippling that institution’s future credibility to uphold global peace and security. So while I will never minimize the costs involved in military action, I am convinced that a failure to act in Libya would have carried a far greater price for America.

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What 50 Miles Should Feel Like…

On Saturday (Friday in the US), I’ll be running a 50 Miler as part of the Great Naseby Water Race. It will be a very small field ~ probably only 40 people spread across the 100k, 80k (50 mile), and 60k events. It will be miniscule compared to the event I’m accustomed to doing in late August, the TransRockies Run. Several hundred TransRockies competitors are treated like royalty from start to finish, and pay quite a bit of money for this catered service.

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Free Media Learning Opportunity: Joseph Nye & American "Soft" Power; John Gaddis & Grand Strategy

Dr. Joseph Nye of Harvard is one of the smartest international relations minds one can find today. He has his name stamped on “neoliberalism,” and has contributed to thought on different types of power. I recently listened to a podcast of Nye speaking at Duke University on 23 March 2010, the talk entitled “Soft Power and Obama’s Grand Strategy.” There were several take-aways I wanted to mark:

(2 mins.) “I see smart power as the ability to combine hard and soft power into successful strategies.”

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